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Holding Internet Auctions – A Guide to Online Bidding

One of the most affected activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic is the fundraising efforts through auctions by charitable institutions and others. Complete lockdowns and strict social distancing norms in recent times have hit on-premises auctions very hard. 

This is primarily because of the nature of traditional auctions. Visualize one and you will see hundreds of people interacting in a closed hall lined with tables where the auction items are displayed. An auctioneer motivates bidders to raise the bids higher and higher and there is a general atmosphere of fun and excitement with people close to one another. 

This is exactly the scenario that is considered as a Covid spreader and it is not surprising that when the pandemic restrictions were implemented, the usual auctions were among the first activities where the ax fell. Fortunately, the vacuum left behind by the fall in the popular auctions of yesteryears was quickly filled by Internet bidding sites and the rise of online bidding and silent auction processes. 

Comparatively, the experience of online bidding from an Internet-enabled device like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop can seem dull and listless for the die-hard regular auction fans. There are no gala dinners, movie shows, or keeping a keen eye on the auctioneer’s paddle. But even though the entertaining atmosphere is missing, safety concerns and the need to ward off Covid-19 have led to an exponential growth in Internet bidding sites and the acceptance of online bidding as the best option for fundraising through auctions.

This post will take you through the many facets of online auctions and silent auction including the benefits and the process of holding one. 

Charges of Internet-based auction websites 

But first a word of the fees of the Internet-based auction sites. Most charge an administrative fee for the software, use of the site for displaying photos of the items, conducting the bidding and declaring the winners, and use of the payment gateway services. Some sites levy a commission on the total sales.

On the other hand, you will also get online bidding websites that promise services free of any charge. But even then, certain fees for third-party services have to be paid like that charged by payment gateways and others. Hence, before choosing a site for holding online auctions go through the fine print carefully.

Benefits of online bidding websites

Online bidding websites offer a host of benefits and this is the main reason why the transformation from an on-premises auction environment to an online one has been so smooth and seamless. 

Here are some of the benefits of online bidding websites. 

  • A mix of participants from all niches: Participants are drawn from all sections of the society regardless of sex, age, class, or ethnicity. Even people who are quite old take part in online bidding as they can do so from the comfort of their homes from any Internet-enabled device. This is a great advantage of online bidding.
  • Wide global reach: As a fundraiser, you would want to reach out to as large an audience as possible and Internet-based auction sites are an ideal platform to do so. Provided you promote your auction very well through email campaigns and on social media platforms, you will get bidders from all corners of the globe. Your items will be fiercely bid for and hence the bids will be higher, increasing your profits from the auction. 
  • Bidding convenience: In Internet auctions, bidders are not tied down to a specific venue. Once they decide to take part in the auctions they can do so from any remote location while on the go. This is the primary reason why online bidding attracts greater participation. 
  • Faster engagement: In the traditional auctions, the whole day is spent by the bidders at the venue with commuting to and from being a major time taker. But in Internet-based bidding, there is scope to take part in the auctions while engaged in some other work. All it takes is a click of a button to interchange from the auction site to other work and back. Hence, bidding is higher, and participation is more in online bidding. 
  • No time restrictions: It is up to the organizers of the auctions to keep an event open as long as they want. Bidding sites generally do not have any restrictions on when the bidding should end. This is a boon for the participants as they can study the items carefully before making a decision. On-premises auctions, on the other hand, are more tension-filled events with the auctioneer rushing the bids through. 
  • No items in transit: In the usual auctions, all items are taken physically to the venue for display. Apart from the time taken to do so, transportation charges can be quite high. In online auctions, the items remain with the sponsoring merchants, donors, and board members. Only the photos of the items included in the auction are uploaded on the websites. Once the winners are declared, the items are shipped directly from the merchantswhere the goods are sourced. Substantial amounts are saved in moving and shipping charges. 

Because of the wide global audience and the convenience of online bidding, Internet-based bidding always attracts more participants and higher winning bids when compared to on-premises auctions. 

Holding an online auction

The key to successfully holding online auctions is to select a site that has credibility and long experience in conducting auctions. Even though you are not limited by space, keep the number of items reasonable as the logistics of handling too many items can mar the auction. 

Follow these guidelines to hold a successful online bidding Internet-based auction. 

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